If you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), brushing up on some widely-used acronyms is a good idea. One of them, SGA (substantial gainful activity), governs both how claimants are approved for SSDI and how they can continue to be eligible for benefits. To find out what SGA means and how it affects you, read below.
Apply Only After Stopping Work
Apply for SSDI benefits only after you have stopped working. The Social Security Administration (SSA) won't approve benefits for those working at any job regardless of how much they are earning. If you are able to work and earn money, that is considered SGA, so the SSA will maintain that you can work and don't need SSDI benefits.
Once you have left your job, apply as soon as possible. When you list your last day of work, be accurate. The SSA bases important issues like back pay and eligibility on your date of last insurance (DLI) or your last day of work.
Some claimants falsely believe that they must be out of work for at least a year to claim benefits. This confusing falsehood arises from the SSA's rule about being affected by a medical condition for at least one year. However, you can be affected by your condition before you stop working and still qualify for benefits.
Working While Applying
It's undeniably difficult to survive when you are neither working nor earning SSDI. Unfortunately, it can take months for the SSA to determine your eligibility for benefits. If you do earn income and the income is reported to the IRS (as it should be), the SSA could discover that income and suspend your benefits. Speak to a Social Security lawyer if you have had your benefits affected by SGA while waiting for an approval.
Working After an Approval
There are ways to earn money after your SSDI benefits are approved, however. Only a certain amount of money may be earned, and it must be reported to the SSA each month. In 2023, SSDI recipients may earn up to $1470 a month.
However, the SSA is also concerned with how you are earning the money. You should not accept a job that is like your last job or that is affected by your medical condition. The SSA could determine that you don't need benefits if you are able to perform similar work to what you were doing before.
If your benefits were suspended because of SGA, speak to a Social Security attorney for more information.